Renting an Apartment Can Be Difficult For Expats
Now that my own apartment will be used as a vacation rental (it can be seen here) I have to move out. This means trying to find and rent an apartment here in the city. Unfortunately for me, this has not been as easy as you might think. After going through this process, I can see why the furnished apartments offered by ApartmentsBA and many other rental agencies are so popular here with foreigners. Rental agencies just don't make it easy for expats to rent a place.
What You Need to Rent
Just like back in the U.S., to rent an apartment, the owners will require you to show proof of income, evidence of employment, etc. They'll also want something known as a "guarantee". A guarantee is someone who owns a property who is willing to use their property to vouch for you. Usually this is a family member. If you don't pay your rent, the landlord can begin proceedings against the guarantor.
This puts expats in a particularly tricky position. Since they don't have family here, it is very difficult to find someone to give you a guarantee. You'll have to know someone really well, and they will have to trust you completely, because they are literally putting their property on the line for you. When I rented my office for the first time, my local business partner, who I knew for 2 years, was my guarantor.
Now, if you work for an international company, usually the company acts as your guarantor. However, if you are moving here as an individual, you won't have a Fortune 500 company standing behind you. That means finding your own guarantor. In my case, I figured it would be simple. I own property in Buenos Aires, so I can guarantee myself.
Wrong! Apparently you can't serve as your own guarantor. This makes things a bit more complicated. So, I'm back in the same boat as all the other expats here who don't own property -- searching for someone to provide me with a guarantee. Luckily, I do have someone who can do this, so that problem is solved.
So, assuming everything goes OK and there's no paperwork issues, I'll be able to rent the place. What a hassle, though. The first place I was going to rent turned me down flat out. I even offered to pay them a year's rent up front and they still wouldn't rent it to me. It seems some owners just don't want to deal with foreigners at all -- even if they do have all their paperwork in order.
If you're here without a DNI, it'll probably be next to impossible for you to rent a place. And if you don't have someone to be your guarantor, you're probably out of luck as well. After going through this experience, it is obvious why so many foreigners just rent the short term apartments. It's a whole lot easier than having to go through all this rigamarole trying to rent long-term.
Note to readers: I think someone could make a good business here providing guarantees to foreigners renting here. If you're someone who has a background in evaluating someone's credit risk, it could be a good opportunity.